In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter announced Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) had negotiated a new Grey’s Anatomy contract that would earn her more than $20 million a year, making her the highest-paid actress in primetime television.
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7. Disney’s Payday
Pompeo told THR that Grey’s Anatomy “has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney,” the parent company of both ABC and ABC Studios.
In 2011, a Wisconsin girl and her friend performed lifesaving CPR after the girl’s mother suffered a heart attack, using techniques they learned watching Grey’s Anatomy. And in 2015, an Israeli woman revealed she saved her own life by seeking a second opinion about a lump in her breast after watching a Grey’s episode about a similar case.
Grey’s has also inspired adaptations in Colombia and Mexico, both titled A corazón abierto. The character names for the intern class in both telenovelas? María, Augusto, Jorge, Isabel, and Cristina.
When Grey’s Anatomy premiered 15 years ago, no one knew it would become a cultural megalith. Rob Lowe passed on the chance to play McDreamy, choosing instead to star in the short-lived Dr. Vegas. The powers that be at ABC waffled about the title, nearly opting to call the show Surgeons and Complications. The Grey’s writers had to pack up their offices after finishing work on the first season. And the series premiere — which aired March 27, 2005, as a midseason replacement for Boston Legal — didn’t exactly blow TV critics away.
“The series, ultimately, is its own kind of surgery, stitched together from recent hits,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Paul Brownfield in a review at the time. “It’s promising material, even if you rarely get to experience it without the sudden intrusion of a Counting Crows-like dirge or the strange sensation that Sarah Jessica Parker is wondering, in voice-over, whether she has what it takes to be a brain surgeon.”
With Justin Chambers' exit behind us, we're bracing for the next departure on the ABC drama.
By its third season, however, Grey’s was a legit phenomenon. It had earned a Golden Globe for Sandra Oh and for the show itself, an Emmy for Katherine Heigl, and an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nomination. Plus, its ratings vaulted the show into the top 5 shows on broadcast TV.
To celebrate the show turning 15 years old on March 27, we’re reeling off 15 impressive facts about the show’s legacy in the gallery above. (Seriously.)